Kampala- They say hard work pays. For Emilly Lekuru, it began paying off in 2017 when she represented Uganda at the Rugby Africa 7s in Tunisia aged just 17. She ended up as Uganda’s topscorer with three tries and a conversion.

Last year was really huge for her. Again, she topscored for Uganda at the continental showpiece in Gaborone, Botswana, with three tries, helping Uganda to a second-place finish. Locally, she topped the charts in the 15s and 7s leagues, and for those achievements, the Uganda Sports Press Association (Uspa) named her the Women’s Rugby Player of the Year.

This year, she is undoubtedly the face of the team that will be vying for Core Status qualification at the World Rugby Series Qualifier in Hong Kong, due April 5-7, as well as the Olympics Qualifiers in September.

It is on that record, therefore, that Lekuru has managed to land an invite for the International Rugby Programme (IRP) in Christchurch, New Zealand. The programme, which will be conducted at St Bede’s College for three months (June to August), will focus on developing Lekuru in the areas of Strength and Conditioning, nutrition plus basic training in how to coach rugby.

To make the trip, Lekuru, who plays for Black Pearls in the local league, will have to part with shs.25m ($6,500) for air tickets, visa and college fees.

“As a person, I cant manage to raise that money but I hope there are well-wishers out there who can support me through the GoFundMe campaign that I am running. I need everyone’s help because an opportunity like this comes once in a lifetime,” she said.
While in New Zealand, Lekuru will also have the chance to play with and against New Zealand national team players in the 15s league.
“Everything that I learn that side, I will come back and kids’ and women’s rugby will benefit from it. The Olympic qualifiers are in September and the top class training I get in New Zealand will help me perform better in the qualifiers,” she added.